EdAllies: Choice Concerns are Misplaced
February 1, 2018

In Minnesota, EdAllies Policy Director Brandie Burris-Gallagher took to the airwaves last Friday to emphasize the importance of school choice for historically underserved families. Burris-Gallagher’s radio segment was one of many responses from advocates across the Network to a 2017 Associated Press analysis that says charter schools perpetuate segregation—including this recent post from 50CAN Executive Vice President Derrell Bradford.

Late last year, Minnesota Public Radio ran a story that largely corroborated the AP study on charter segregation. According to EdAllies, the MPR segment missed critical voices and nuance on the importance of parent choice.

In last Friday’s follow-up radio roundtable, Burris-Gallagher joined a former superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools and the attorney who recently argued a school segregation case before the state Supreme Court. They discussed the myriad of reasons why families choose a school, whether charter schools that serve predominantly children of color are truly “segregated,” and much more.

“Parents care about teacher diversity, quality, a safe and affirming environment for their families, etc. It is dangerous to elevate integration [as the most important issue] because that isn’t always the case,” Burris-Gallagher said on the air.

Advocates and critics alike can agree that some charter schools aren’t meeting the bar for excellence—just like many traditional neighborhood schools. However, EdAllies and other PIE Network members continue to champion high-quality charters as viable options for families that have been historically denied strong school options.

Advocates have also expressed concern over placing the burden of integration on students of color. For example, the “Strengthening Neighborhoods Initiative” in Denver Public Schools allows low-income students priority enrollment in schools outside their school zone. However, students attending out of their school zones are responsible for their own transportation, a potentially limiting factor for many families.

As Burris-Gallagher explained in a recent EdAllies blog post, “If the end goal is truly integrated, quality schools, there are many strategies we should exhaust long before we even consider taking away choice from families of color.”

Interested in learning more about how EdAllies thoughtfully responded to local news reports? Reach out.

Ashley Schmidt

Ashley is PIE Network's Senior Director of Member Engagement & Communications

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